By Toyin Akiode
Barcelona invalidated the proverb that ‘thunder doesn’t strike the same place twice’ as they replicated their first leg lethargic display in Paris against Juventus last week Tuesday. Paulo Dybala and Giorgio Chiellini did the damage against Barcelona in another match that they will like to forget in a hurry.
With almost everyone giving up on Barcelona’s chances of progressing against Paris Saint Germain by overhauling a four-goal deficit, theCatalans did the impossible and arrived at this level right on the door steps of Turin giants; Juventus.
Unfortunately, their first leg display in Turin has done serious damage to their quest for European club Holy Grail. They are three goals down and face a tough opposition who actually knows how to defend more than scoring!
Juventus under Masimilliano Allegri are arguably one of the top ten clubs in Europe. The team is made up of battle hardened top players from the back to the front.
Gigi Buffon will strike fear into the heart of any European striker who goes face-to-face with the legend. The Italian does know a thing or two at exploiting this aura.
In Chiellini, Bonucci and Lichtsteiner; Allegri boasts of the most rugged, miserly and aggressive backline in Europe!
Juventus defense compared to what Paris Saint Germain brought to Camp Nou is like comparing an apple to an orange. The difference is daylight!
This is what Luis Enrique and his undoubtedly talented team will battle against tonight. But if there is one player that has the capacity to unlock any defense and render renowned center halves ineffective; that man is Lionel Messi.
Messi has been the main man for Barcelona for over 10 years and the magic is still intact. Ably supported with Luis Suarez and Neymar; Barcelona have always tormented any backline that confronts them.
Their Achilles heel is their defense. Pique is good but not great. Mascherano has lost pace and is easily exploited by quick attackers. Umtiti is the young one – he needs more exposure to become world class. And Barcelona still needs ‘that goalkeeper’.
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Luis Enrique’s announced exit and what some had termed a poor season by Barcelona standards has left the Catalans with a foggy future.
A great showing against Juventus may push the Catalans up the hill towards confronting their bitter rivals in the ‘El Clasico’ this weekend. There is a gnawing feeling that this may be too much of asking knowing the tactical disposition of Allegri in this kind of situation.
Barcelona seem to have pushed it too far this time around and another PSG is far from happening.